Marvel Comics Presents (1st series) #17

Issue Date: 
April 1989
Story Title: 
“American Pie Part VIII: Fit to Print” (First Story), The Retribution Affair - part 1: Blinded by the Light (4th story)

First Story: Ann Nocenti (writer), Rick Leonardi (penciller), P. Craig Russell and Al Milgrom (inkers), Ken Lopez (letterer), Mike Rockwitz (colorist), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief) Fourth story: Bob Harras (writer), Ron Lim (penciler), Bruce D. Patterson (inker), Agustin Mas (letters), Andy Yanchus (colors), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

First Story:
Nina and Bruce are exchanging fire with the Cold Warriors and Bruce yells at Zackery to go protect his mother. Zackery goes over to her and looks out the window at Grampa’s car, wondering if anyone cares about Grampa. Grampa, meanwhile, oblivious to the firefight, calmly gets out of his car and strolls through the gunfire, only losing his hat to a stray bullet. He walks inside and notices Roxanne is gagged and unwraps her. He tells her that it is time for him to die even though he wasn’t shot because this just isn’t his world anymore. Grampa says for her to take his strength and keep the family together. This act brings Roxanne back to sanity. Grampa passes away and suddenly the police arrive and order the Cold Warriors to throw down their weapons. Colossus bursts through the wall to tell the family that it is all finally over. Later, the family is telling their story to the media on the scene and Colossus tells a nearby reporter that he thinks the story will be covered up. The reporter dismisses that kind of talk as paranoia and says of course the story will see print there in America. The neighbors, meanwhile, continue their wild speculating and wonder if a cult sacrifice was going down the night before. Before she is taken by the police, Nina speaks with Colossus and tells him that she doesn’t think her chances will be good in the future. Colossus assures her that things will turn out well for her because she did the right thing. The family shares an embrace and all is well with them. Bruce shakes Colossus’ hand again and they can’t thank him enough. Roxanne asks where he will go and he replies that he is homesick, but for his family and Russia, rather than the X-Men. Also being taken away, Alexander suddenly yells at Colossus from the back of a police car. He says he will make his one phone call and kill that story. The car drives away and Bruce asks who that was. Colossus replies that it is a confused and crazy man; at least he hopes he is.

Fourth story: Having received a disturbing letter from Sean Cassidy, Scott Summers rushes to Muir island. He arrives in the middle of the night but, as soon as he sets foot on the island, he is attacked by several defensive mechanisms. But Muir Island never had such sophisticated technology! While Scott seeks cover behind a rock, he sees Moira passing by, ignoring his cries for help. Scott releases a wide-range beam, destroying all plasma blasters at once but then is felled by a sonic blast. Several hours later he comes around and knocks at the door of the lab complex. Sean and Moira open, but they claim to have slept through the entire night, and there are no signs of the battle to be found. While Scott and Sean wonder what this all could mean, Moira enjoys the beautiful sunset and secretly communes with an unseen force.

Full Summary: 

First Story:
Bruce and Nina are both returning fire at the Cold Warriors through one of the holes in a boarded up window. Zackery comes up to her, ignoring her warning to get down, and begs the bionic woman to save his grandfather from the backyard. Bruce turns around and yells for Zackery to get back and protect his still-gagged mother.

Roxanne is huddled by the window that faces Grampa’s car. Zackery boosts himself up to look out it and tells his mother that Grampa’s going to get shot and no one seems to care. Amazingly, Grampa himself gets out of the old car and strolls back to the house singing an old tune. The swarm of bullets hurtling across the yard only succeeds in knocking off his hat.

He comes through the door and Nina has him covered with her shotgun. Grampa says he surrenders and laughs a bit. Bruce and Zackery go over to see Grampa, though Nina points out they shouldn’t stop shooting. Zackery asks Grampa if he got shot and dumbfounded Grampa asks who was shooting – nobody touched him. Noticing Roxanne, Grampa goes over to his daughter and unbinds her face, asking who did this to her.

Before she can answer, Grampa informs her that it’s time for him to leave this world. Roxanne comes back to her senses and embraces him, asking him if he got hit after all. Grampa says that he’s uninjured; it’s just that this isn’t his world anymore. Lying down on the floor, he points out how tough guys have screwed the world up and advises Roxanne to show some women’s strength. He tells her to keep the family together and that, if she falls apart, it will all fall apart. He says to take his spirit and his toughness and to save her family with it, just before he passes away.

Zackery is in a panic and begs Grampa not to go. Suddenly, lights bathe the area outside the farmhouse. The authorities have arrived and they yell at the Cold Warriors to drop their weapons and surrender! Colossus himself bashes through a nearby wall, yelling for Bruce and Zackery and then yelling that it is all over.

Later, everyone is outside the house, making their report to the various reporters that have arrived. As they speak, Grampa’s body is being loaded into an ambulance. Roxanne is holding Zackery and tells the media how they were having a picnic, heard some cries, and witnessed a murder. Bruce interrupts and asks if they could be spared these questions.

Roxanne shows some of that strength her father told her to have and tells her husband that this story has to be told. She goes on to say that they slowly realized their own government was trying to kill them because what they witnessed was some kind of clue to some horrible secrets.

When the reporter wants to know what led them to believe it was the US government after them, Roxanne says her first clue was when the police treated them strangely. Bruce cuts her off and asks if she’s strong enough for this after her father’s death. Zackery lets out a cry for Grampa and holds his mother tighter. Roxanne assures Bruce that she has strength for this and more. She then comforts her son by telling him that his grandfather is there with them and that he’ll always be in her.

Another reporter is talking to Peter and expresses his surprise over how something like this could happen. Peter seems sure that it won’t see print because the media is owned by the same people behind the government’s covert forces. The reporter laughs this off and asks what conspiracy theorist Peter has been talking to. He says, there in America, the story will see print and that Peter is shell-shocked.

Further back from the scene are the gossipy neighbors. They talk about how Roxanne was tied up and about the gunfire and the virtual army outside the house. One suspects a cult sacrifice of all things. They muse about the things they saw and stories they could tell when someone asks if anyone is writing all this down.

Peter goes over to Nina and she is preparing to go off with the police. She says that she doesn’t know what her fate will be since she defected from an illegal government organization. Peter eases her worries by saying that it will work out for her because she did the right thing. Nina says she is afraid, but at least she’s out of the cold. He says she was never cold and she thanks him for saying that.

Bruce, meanwhile, is telling his son that he is very proud of his mother and Zackery himself. He says that the boy fought well for his country. Roxanne hugs them both and says they have a lot of healing to do and she’ll pull them through this and anything else that comes their way. Peter walks up to them and Bruce shakes his hand, asking how he can ever explain how much he thanks the X-Man for his help. Peter says there is no need because he understands. Roxanne asks where he’s going to go and Peter says he is homesick, not for the X-Men, but rather for his family and his homeland of Russia.

Suddenly, a voice yells from the back of police car at Peter. Alexander is cuffed and sitting in the back. The leader of the Cold Warriors tells him not to bother buying a paper tomorrow because all he needs is to use his one phone call to bury all of this. Peter tells him, “We’ll see.” The car drives away and Bruce asks who that was. Peter says it was a confused and insane man… at least he hopes so.

Fourth story:
It’s late at night on Muir Island, the bleak bit of rock that rises out of off the cold, dark North Sea, off the coast of Scotland. The island houses one of the world’s most sophisticated genetic laboratories, specializing in seeking the origin of mutations. A small boat approaches Muir Island, its sole passenger is Scott Summers, the X-Factor member known as Cyclops. He is here because an old friend asked him for help. However, just as he sets foot on the island, a glowing fireball appears in the sky and approaches him fast.

Cyclops dodges the energy ball and wonders if the island is under some sort of attack. The fireball turns around for another attack but, this time, Scott is prepared and releases his optic beam at the approaching missile – with impressive results. The fireball explodes and Cyclops, though unharmed, is knocked off his feet. He gets back up and investigates the scene around him; his boat and the docks are destroyed. Scott asks himself what was that thing? Granted, Sean‘s letter hinted at trouble, but nothing like this. Remembering his reason for being there, Scott turns towards the lab complex but not a single light is on. Surely Sean and Moira must have heard the explosion he things and he fears that something has happened to them.

Scott’s thoughts are interrupted by the whir of machinery. Several plasma blasters spring from the ground, while a mechanical voice announces, ""Trespasser, this is a forbidden zone. Commence extermination.“ Cyclops blasts at a few of them while he quickly seeks cover behind a rock. He wonders where the defensive devices come from, as Muir Island doesn’t have technology that advanced. From his hiding place, he tries to deal with the remaining blasters but he suddenly sees Moira walking right by as if she doesn’t see a thing. Scott calls out to her but she shows no reaction. She either can’t or won’t respond.

Cyclops has finally had enough of the situation he is in. So far he hoped to cause only minimum damage, so that he could examine the technology, but he now releases a wide-screen optic blast at full force, instantly destroying all of the strange blasters. He runs after Moira, once more calling her name, but all of a sudden a sonic blast is aimed at him. The noise is unbearable and, although Scott tries to cover his ears, it eats through his head and he collapses. Moira, still unaware of anything that is happening around her, proceeds to the lab complex.

(several hours later)
Scott comes around and instantly realizes by the dim light that hints at the coming dawn that he has been out for hours. He concludes that whoever attacked him didn’t want him to get to Moira but now they don’t seem to care anymore. Cyclops walks to the complex and bangs at the door, calling for Sean and Moira. Soon, the couple answers. Moira wonders what Scott is doing there and Sean admits that he invited him for a stay. Before he can further explain, Scott interrupts, asking Moira if she doesn’t recall the events of a few hours before, like the computerized firing squad that attacked him. With concern, Moira asks Scott if he is all right, since she and Sean slept through the night and didn’t leave the bed. Scott then turns to Sean, asking if he heard the explosion that destroyed the docks.

A few minutes later, all three of them are at the docks, completely intact, just like Scott’s boat. Cyclops is sure that everything must have been repaired while he was unconscious, though Moira questions if he did stop at a pub before he came across. Scott doesn’t find this funny. In the past, he had his share of hallucinations but what happened last night was real. There is definitely something strange going on. He felt a presence, malevolent and dangerous and it frightens him.

Sean apologizes on his lover’s behalf; she meant nothing by that remark. Moira agrees and too makes an excuse. She suggests that the men should go back to the house and they’ll talk about these unsettling events there. As Sean leaves with Scott, he asks if Moira won’t come. Still standing at the island’s shore, she says she‘ll join later. She just wants to watch the sun set, which will give her time to think. If Scott is right, they’ll need their brains to figure this out. However, after the men are out of sight, Moira silently communes with some unseen force.

Characters Involved: 

First Story:

Bruce, Roxanne, Zackery, Grampa (the family)
Nina / Number Six

The family’s neighbors (unnamed)

The Cold Warriors (unnamed soldiers)

Fourth story:
Moira MacTaggert

Story Notes: 

The other features in the issue are:
2nd story: Black Panther "Panther’s Quest" – part 5 of 25
3rd story: a stand alone story about the Watcher

First story:
This issue takes place while the X-men pretended to be dead and lived in an abandoned town in the Australian Outback, between Uncanny X-Men #227 and Uncanny X-Men #250.

The secret murder in the woods that the family and Colossus saw took place in part 2 of the story, Marvel Comics Presents #11.

The storyarc is mislabeled as “American Pie” in this issue. This storyline is actually titled “God’s Country.”

Fourth story:
The sonic blast could not have been caused by Banshee, as he is still powerless ever since over-exhausting his sonic blast during the fight with Moses Magnum in X-Men (1st series) #119.

First story summary written by: Android 247
Fourth story summary written by: Peter Luzifer

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